Is 3 World Trade Center a Dud?

The headline says it all: I’m concerned about 3 World Trade Center (above left).

The other three towers—1WTC, 4WTC, and 7WTC—work well enough by emphasizing streamlined shapes over ornament; what they lack in personality, they make up for in dignity. (This is despite a flaw or two—namely, 1WTC’s value-engineered antenna and issues with window cleaning.) They succeed as a group not because they’re interesting, but because they’re alike, and if the overall effect is chilly, that was unavoidable for an office park built around a memorial.

Whatever harmony the first three towers achieved is at risk by the relatively graceless 3WTC. Its design is void of rhyme or reason, with asymmetrical ledges on the north and south sides and an offset base. Depending on where you’re standing, you could be looking at two different buildings: The north and south façades have vertical metal lines creating stripes of two widths, while the east and west have exposed metal framing. The base has little in common with what’s above, and from street level, dark bands of mechanical vents and protruding tailpipes draw most of the attention. As if there wasn’t already enough frippery, the top (rendering above) looks like it might involve a fence.

The overall World Trade Center site plan doesn’t help: 3WTC and 4WTC are too close together, and from many angles, they appear to be one Frankenstein’s monster of a building. Once 2WTC is built, four motley buildings (2WTC, the Oculus, 3WTC, and 4WTC) will be lined up in a row, and the only decent view of the Oculus—an expensive folly, but the World Trade Center’s most iconic building—will be from the 9/11 Memorial. The challenges of the project were obviously huge, and yet, walking around with so much of it finished, you can’t help but think that an opportunity has been missed.



  1. I completely disagree. 3 World Trade Center is quite a handsome tower. Yes it is too close to 4 WTC but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this tower does in fact fit in with the rest of the complex. If any tower isn’t going to fit in it will be the disastrous future 2 WTC. Luckily we still have a chance for the original design to go up on that one.

    • I totally agree. The box-stepped redesign of 2 WTC is the most hideous building I have ever seen in my life!! The original, elegant, diamond-topped Foster design, more representative of the site and the 9/11 Memorial, should immediately be reinstituted as the building to be constructed, especially since its foundation is already built and would have to be torn out for the hideous BIG redesign. Better yet, build a replica of 1 WTC without the spire so that the site gets back its “Twin Towers.” That would be the absolute best way to restore and honor the World Trade Center! Make it so, Mr. Silverstein.

  2. I love 3 WTC too. I think it’s a nice complement to 4. I stare at the east side from my apt.

  3. Perhaps 2 WTC should not be built at all, they have not even filled the other WTC buildings with tenants yet or perhaps ever. Leave a little room for some natural light from the East and North. Certainly no more retail space is needed as we can see with the Westfield/Brookfield vacant or soon to be vacant stores.

    • That is simply not true. 4 WTC and 7 WTC ae 100% leased, 1 WTC is over 70% leased…so 2 WTC will happen, its just a matter of when. I was talking to some of Silverstein’s people not to long ago and they stated that as per an agreement between the PA and Silverstein 2 WTC must begin rising by 2020…and that if an anchor tenant comes along that wants Fosters diamond shaped design then that is what will be built.

      • That’s interesting about 2WTC. But the others aren’t completely leased: 4WTC has ~52K square feet available ( and 7WTC has ~69K square feet ( And 1WTC has 30% available, according to its website (, so if it’s “over 70% leased,” it’s not by much. But that’s a relatively small fraction overall.

      • What percent of the tenants are NYC or NYS government agencies? I know NYC HRA has a huge amount of space at 4WTC. They broke their lease at 180 Water Street and consolidated office space from 250 Church Street and other downtown locations. This will, of course, be explained as having operational benefits – but, given the City’s practice of moving agencies to other boroughs for cost saving and economic development reasons, consolidation into expensive prime Manhattan real estate has to be noted, and questioned. This was NOT a decision made by the agency,

        This is not a new scenario – vacant space in the original WTC also was filled by government agenies, generally NYS.

  4. Hm. They need to update their website then. Spotify just took the last 11 floors available in 4 WTC this past February so it’s definitely 100% leased. I believe you may be correct in terms of 7 having about 2 available floors, which is nothing in the grand scheme of it all. The point is the space is filling up nicely at the Trade Center, more than anyone thought it would ever. 2 WTC is going to be built that is not a question.

  5. The Bjarke design for 2 WTC is far superior to the diamond shaped thing; yet another slanted building. Whoopee. But the placement of the buildings is just bizarre. And working around Arad’s awful giant drains is like an anchor forever pulling down on the site around it. That’s the problem; but that’s what the powers that be wanted: a memorial that wiped out all memory of September 11.

    • I agree that the Drains of Doom are the problem. They look like the urinals in Mordor. With the falling whale-box of the memorial museum, The Alien Invader of the Oculus (which I like), and the world’s largest homage to Sharon Stone’s ice pick in Basic Instinct looming over it all (World Trade Center 1), it’s a disaster theme park. They should have hired Maya Lin to do a small memorial in a corner of the site and spaced the buildings more generously, instead of wrapping everything around the DoD.

  6. I disagree that #3 will be a dud. These collections of buildings are certainly a disappointment but #3 will have a sense of scale, texture, and more than simply reflected glass as the exterior surface. It is such a relief to see a building sheathed with something in addition to endless, humanless, reflective glass.

    Your comment “…if the overall effect is chilly, that was unavoidable….” is an unfortunate by-product of what has been built. With a different design, I believe these buildings could have been a much warmer, pedestrian friendly, approachable and neighborly buildings.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments. It’s good to have this discourse.

  7. Everytime I see the BIG design I get so frustrated and annoyed. It’s so ugly, uninspired, and downright offensive to the site and the memory and plan thereof. The Foster design, on the other hand, exudes an air of confidence and pois that fits the skyline very well(see Babylon A.D., or Eden of the East). It’s nice to see the development of 3 WTC and they should just stick with marketing that to potential clients for now rather than rush the 2 WTC as there is lack of tennants, and no one would want to work in that ugly stack of jenga blocks. Very disconcerting oversight, all things considererd. Hopefully Mr. Silverstein comes to his senses and goes back to that wonderous Foster 2 WTC.

    • Remember, WTC Tower 3 was originally supposed to be 10 full stories taller with 4 antennae towers on top and John Hancock tower-like X-bracing.. It was cheapened and dumbed-down to get built faster. In the case of Tower 2, every single person I know despises the BIG staircase design and definitely wants back the beautiful slanted-roof crystal that was originally proposed. Please Larry! BUILD NORMAN FOSTER’S design and scrap that ugly LEGO staircase!! Remember, the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is September 2021 and the complete site must be re-built by then.

  8. As much as I too would like to see it, Unfortunately even if Larry landed an anchor tenant tomorrow for 2 World Trade, it is highly improbable the building could be completed by the 20th anniversary which is now less than 4 years away.